Published: November 22, 2011
The Lemoine map sampler based on L’Enfant’s plan as revised by Andrew Ellicott for the city of Washington, and as published by Thackara and Vallance in November 1792, is now on view in the parlor at historic Dumbarton House.
This embroidery, one of only three known examples of its kind dating to the fledgling years of the new nation’s capital, 1800‱804, has been called “a tour de force of American iconography…[and] among the most ambitious of Federal America” by Dr Gloria Allen, author of an upcoming book on District of Columbia schoolgirl needlework. The other two embroidered city of Washington maps are in the collections of Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
The Lemoine map sampler was acquired by Dumbarton House, headquarters of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America through purchase, thanks to the generosity of several key donors, and by gift of Mr and Mrs Richard Bull. Attributed to Maria Magdalene Lemoine of Alexandria, District of Columbia (today, Alexandria is part of Virginia), the Lemoine map sampler was only recently discovered, having descended within the original Lemoine/Spotswood family line.
Maria Magdalene Lemoine was born in Georgetown, Md. (today, the neighborhood of Georgetown is in Washington, District of Columbia), on December 2, 1792. About 1795, her family moved just down the Potomac River to Alexandria where her father and grandfather were in a variety of business ventures.
According to research by Allen, all three of the city of Washington map samplers are believed to have been made in the school of Mrs Cooke, who advertised in the Alexandria Gazette in 1801 and again in 1803. Maria, as well as her fellow needle workers for the other two samplers, lived in close proximity to Mrs Cooke’s school, 1800‱804, and were of similar age. Maria is known to have departed Alexandria with her family by 1808.
Measuring 32 by 19¼ inches, all the text, costumes, and the map are stitched silk on silk, while the flowers, faces, and putti/angels are all watercolor on the silk base. While the majority of pictorial samplers/embroideries were completed using a single print source for their imagery, the Lemoine map sampler reveals the use of five different sources. Currently, the print sources that inspired the designs for the map, as well as the George Washington Memorial, and the allegorical figure Justice, are all known. The sources for the allegorical figures for Liberty and Hope have yet to be found as printed images.
Dumbarton House is at 2715 Q Street, NW. For more information, 202-337-2288 or www.DumbartonHouse.org .
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